Pennsylvania lawmakers are considering a bill that would add a licensing requirement for the state’s cyberschools but also would make the state pay for the schools, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported Sept. 28.
The House Education Committee voted 18-1 in favor of House Bill 1733, which would require online charter schools to get a license from the state before they could enroll any students from outside the school district that granted their charter.
The measure also would require the state Education Department to set aside funds to pay for the schools. Under current law, school districts are billed for each cyberschool student who lives within their district.
The bill was introduced by Education Committee Chairman Jess Stairs, R-Westmoreland, after some school districts refused to pay the cyberschools’ tuitions and challenged the legality of the online schools.
Seven cyberschools are operating in Pennsylvania this year. The bill would require these schools to exchange their charters for state licenses at the end of this school year. The licenses would remain in effect through the period covered by the original charters.
Michael Maslayak, principal of the Pennsylvania Virtual Charter School in Norristown, told the Inquirer that while funding and other school district concerns should be addressed, cyberschools must be allowed to survive.
“There is too much support from parents and families to let this [movement] go by the wayside,” he said.